Why I Think Jockey’s Fit Kit is Kind of Missing the Point

In May the New York Times covered the release of Jockey’s new Fit Kit, which in turned sparked a number of articles remarkable for the uniformity of their frenzied hand-wringing and cries of “Bras, am I right? Who can figure these things out? Arrghh they’re sooooo haaaard,” followed immediately by a number of articles that countered with the suggestion that recent developments in bra fitting practices, especially those relating to larger cup/smaller back sizes, were a sham, a crock, and snake oil, and that bras were supposed to be uncomfortable instruments of torture anyway so all these “bra fitters” were zealous, self-righteous quacks.

Jockey Bra Fit Kit: Now Delicious Cat Treats.

Jockey Bra Fit Kit: Now Delicious Cat Treats.

I was skeptical of Jockey’s fitting claims, but my surprise at the passion and range of responses inspired me to see what the commotion was all about. I know it seems odd coming from someone who’s written about bras for over a year now, but at the end of the day, bra fitting isn’t really a great mystery. Sure, there’s a lot of misinformation out there, and sure, you’ll meet some people who may give you advice that isn’t particularly helpful to you, but over time you come to discover what YOU like and what YOU deserve in a good bra, and really from there on out you just gotta try the damn things on. In my opinion, the tricky thing about bras is that for many of us, no one explains how to find a good fit for ourselves. We (and by “we” I of course mean “Sweets, from age 10 to 23″) decide that, at some point, we’ll find a size and stick with it forever and ever, and any bra with that size on the tag will fit us.

The 5 Jockey Bra Styles: Classic Contour, Tailored Contour, Double-Lined Contour, Classic Soft Cup, Double-Lined Soft Cup

The 5 Jockey Bra Styles: Classic Contour, Tailored Contour, Double-Lined Contour, Classic Soft Cup, Double-Lined Soft Cup

Except the thing is, bras aren’t like socks or t-shirts; there are a few more moving parts. Getting the number and the letter right one time doesn’t necessarily mean that’s your number and letter forever. However, the good news is that once you’ve figured HOW you want to feel and look in a bra, you’re kind of in charge of your destiny. You can pick the colors and the shapes and the styles and the sizes that YOU want. With new brands and new styles appearing with greater regularity in an ever-more-competitive market, there’s never been a better time to love lingerie, and knowing how you like your bra to fit on your body allows you to pick and choose from that huge variety to find what you love best.  The huge number of options is great, because it better represents the diversity of human bodies, but it can feel a little daunting to someone just setting out on her bra journey.

* * * * *

Jockey’s press materials seem to revolve around eliminating some of that picking and choosing, narrowing the playing field. According to their customer research, the majority (81%) of women want bras in basic colors, only 9% care about matching sets, and 62% aren’t interested in style. With that in mind, it almost feels unfair for me to evaluate their fitting process: I am clearly not their target customer. I don’t care for plain, molded cup bras, I DO care about matching sets, and I want anything other than a basic color: I want jewel tones and lace and polka dots and bows and ruffles and prints and satins and velvets and . . . you see where I’m going.

I was also dubious about how truly revolutionary any new fitting process could possibly be, considering how different the American bra landscape looks now than it did ten years ago.  How much of an improvement was really called for?  I’ve seen well-fitting bras radically change lives, both mine and other women’s.  Would Jockey’s innovation manage to go above and beyond?

I requested a review sample from Jockey on a Friday and received it the following Monday. The kit retails for $19.95, and includes a $20 voucher, presumably to offset the cost of the kit when you order your new bra. I received a frankly massive box that contained the press literature, the instruction sheet, the 10 different molded cups, a color-coded measuring tape, a sample bra in size 2/32, a lingerie bag, and a branded thumb drive (slightly odd).  The idea is that you hold the ten cup things up to your body, pick the one that fits you best, and then measure your underbust.  Rather than wearing a 32B or a 36F, you wear a 1/32 or a 7/36 (note: these size conversions aren’t necessarily accurate, just my guesses).

Right off the bat, there’s something that feels clinical and sterile about the Jockey Bra fitting process. I know women who are reluctant to order bras online, period.  If I told them they first had to pay $20 for a fit kit of plastic cups and a measuring tape before they’d even get a chance to see one of the bras, they’d laugh in my face.

Would you rather start your bra fitting journey with one of these . . .

Would you rather start your bra fitting journey with one of these . . .

Moreover, some of the fun of lingerie is presentation; there’s nothing wrong with a basic shopping bag, but I personally get a little thrill when I can travel home with a pretty shopping bag over my arm, like the one above from Miss Mandalay. Tutti Rouge gets it: their blogger samples, in sassy black boxes filled with pink tissue and pretty, frilly undies, tapped into that feeling of fun and specialness. Getting a massive box, with “That perfect fit you’ve dreamed about is finally here” emblazoned on it (along with a pitcher of water and a measuring tape), cleared past the security in my office building didn’t feel particularly fun or special.

... or one of these?

. . . or one of these?

I got home, unpacked the materials, and laid out the plastic cups, my heart sinking. Ten cups? Just ten? Ten cups, that are supposed to fit women of both differing shapes AND sizes?  Jockey’s pitch is that their fitting system addresses the fact that breasts have volume. Yet already I was at a loss– I couldn’t really tell if this hard plastic cup was the right shape for me, or if it was just shoving my breast tissue into a mold. What if one cup’s dimensions or projection looks better than another’s, but the size doesn’t seem to encapsulate all of my breast tissue? Also, bras take on different shapes once they’re fitted to the body. The band stretches, the wires bend and adjust, the straps smooth the cups and help stabilize the bra. A rigid plastic cup doesn’t move like a bra cup, and it certainly doesn’t move the way a well-fitted bra does.

20130710-220525.jpg

The instructions aren’t a tremendous amount of help. The illustrations showing what is “too small” or “too large” were unclear to me, someone obsessively familiar with bra fitting, and I wonder if they’d be completely opaque to someone used to wearing the wrong size and unsure of how to fix it.

This is an illustration of what looks like a plastic department store mannequin.  How am I supposed to tell what the "right" size is on my actual, composed-of-muscle-fat-and-tissue body?

This is an illustration of what looks like a plastic department store mannequin. How am I supposed to tell what the “right” size is on my actual, composed-of-muscle-fat-and-tissue body?

I decided it wouldn’t really be fair to write about the kit without at least trying the product, so I requested a review sample from my Jockey contact on June 10. I really did want to see what it would feel like and fit like. Ali Cudby has some really positive thoughts recognizing Jockey’s innovation; Elisabeth Dale was able to try the “right” size, but her bra felt all wrong for her shape. Since a month has now elapsed and no bra is forthcoming (I’ve since heard that Jockey had some inventory supply issues), I’m kind of . . . over it. So here are my thoughts:

20130710-220835.jpg

  • The bra included in the press kit is the “Tailored Contour” in black in a size 2/32, meaning that the cup matches the #2 cup, stuck on a size 32 band.  It features narrower straps than some of the other styles, adorned with twisting silver metal hardware joining the strap to the cup.  Otherwise, that’s it.  No embellishments, no seams, no personality.  Three columns of two rows of hooks and eyes, fully encased flexible underwires, and smooth, soft-feeling molded cups.  It’s . . . fine.  I couldn’t begin to tell you what the “real” size is– maybe somewhere between a 32C-DD? I’m so used to thinking of describing breast volume using the classic alphanumeric system that it’s really disorienting to try to evaluate the sizing of the new bras.  But with that in mind:

20130710-220842.jpg

  • There’s so much more to feeling good in a bra than finding the right size.  What about seams?  Seams are the greatest!  What shape, what lift, what amazing support they can provide!  What about different shapes of molded cups?  A molded cup that fits like a dream on one woman will fit totally differently on a dozen other women, even if they all wear the same size and have the same cup volume.  Their ages, their breast shape, their bone structures, their muscularity, and their personal comfort levels will all affect how they feel about a particular bra. What about breathable fabrics?  What about different panels on the cups, or different strap widths, gore heights, and band depths?  What about the need to accomodate women whose breasts are closer together or farther apart on their bodies?  The new Jockey Bras will most likely solve some women’s fit issues, but to suggest that these five styles are the reinvention of the bra as we know it and will solve EVERY woman’s fit issues is absurd.
  • I regularly see products in the American lingerie market that are designed to combat some of the same bra issues the Jockey Fit Kit claims to fight: back fat, slipping or digging straps, spilling breast tissue, and painful underwires. I certainly don’t fault women or companies for wanting to avoid or correct these issues of comfort and flattery, but I don’t think buying “special” bras will necessarily help, when most of these issues can be alleviated or improved by adjusting the size or seeking out a different fit or shape.
  • I also don’t think women who experience these fit issues should feel relegated to band-aid colored “problem solver” bras. Women’s breasts aren’t “problems” that need “solutions”. The Jockey Fit Kit sets itself up to be the ultimate band-aid, but COME ON.  Is “problem solver” really all our underwear should be?
  • Knowing your Jockey size will only allow you to know how these five Jockey bras will fit you. For that matter, knowing your bra size in any brand, any style, and even any color will only give you an idea of how that one particular brand’s style’s color will fit you. As Elisabeth says, there is much more that goes into the “perfect fit you’ve dreamed about” than the size on the tag, no matter how that size is expressed. Different cuts, different shapes, different materials, and even different dye lots will fit differently.
  • At the end of the day, this feels like homework. Worse than that, it feels like remedial, dumbed-down homework. It seems to assume that women are too helpless and easily overwhelmed to grasp bra fitting. Sure, bras can be tricky. It can take some trial and error to find your favorite fit. But the thing is, shoes can be just as tricky and trial-and-error as bras. Jeans? My gracious, there are literally THOUSANDS of different shapes, cuts, lengths, styles, and sizes of jeans. I have been as bitterly disappointed when my favorite cut of jeans is discontinued as I am when my favorite bras are. If women can try on dozens of pairs of shoes to make sure they find a pair that will go with their outfits, last a long time, suit their personal style, and feel comfortable throughout a day of wear, they can do the same with their bras.

There is more to fit than the size on the tag. There’s more to fit than knowing cup volume. And there’s much, much more to lingerie than our bra sizes.

*     *     *     *     *

20130710-220516.jpg

I wonder if these are food-grade. I can serve guacamole in them?

Finally, now I have these ten random numbered plastic wobbly cup things hanging around my apartment. While I am by no means as diligently careful about my environmental impact as I could be, the thought of all these plastic cups winging their way over the country, only to sit around gathering dust, most likely for eternity, once customers have chosen their Jockey size, makes me cringe. I’d much rather just try on a bunch of bras and return the ones that don’t fit, so that they can be resold.

23 Comments on Why I Think Jockey’s Fit Kit is Kind of Missing the Point

  1. Leah H
    July 11, 2013 at 10:09 am (4 years ago)

    Ouch! Great comprehensive post and good points.

    Maybe the cups can be recycled? In NYC, all hard plastic is recyclable now. I wonder what type it is for cities that only do #1 and #2 plastics…

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 11, 2013 at 10:21 am (4 years ago)

      Oh, good call! I need to look into that, and also double-check to find out exactly what they’re made of. It might be some kind of … I dunno, resin-thing? For now I suppose I’ll just let the cats bat them around :)

      Reply
      • AE
        July 25, 2013 at 5:17 am (4 years ago)

        Why not offer them to another person in the bra community for half price? I am pretty sure a number of people are curious about their system (even though few would consider it revolutionary).

        Reply
        • Sweets
          July 25, 2013 at 9:30 am (4 years ago)

          That’s a great suggestion! I’m holding onto it right now because I have some immediate friends/bloggers who want to see what it looks like, and then maybe we’ll start sending it out into the world. Like a Sisterhood of the Travelling Weird Plastic Bra Cup Thingies.

          Reply
  2. Laura
    July 11, 2013 at 10:22 am (4 years ago)

    Could you make an art project out of the cups? Maybe some sort of chandelier or decorative wall piece? Of course, I expect you to paint the cups first, in lots of beautiful, rich colors.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 11, 2013 at 10:29 am (4 years ago)

      HA! I totally thought about making a weird arty chandelier out of them. That or hats. Hats might be winning at this point.

      Reply
      • Laura
        July 11, 2013 at 11:12 am (4 years ago)

        Hats would be perfect! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that! I want a blog post when you make them. :)

        Reply
  3. Elisabeth Dale (@TheBreastLife)
    July 11, 2013 at 12:59 pm (4 years ago)

    Love your post and couldn’t agree with you more. Interesting that you received a different set of materials with your kit. I was not aware of their customer research before I tried out their bra. (Only 9% of women like matching sets? What???) And, I too, have no clue what to do with the Fit Kit or even where to store it in my tiny apartment. An art project sounds like a good idea, though!

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 11, 2013 at 2:34 pm (4 years ago)

      I was so surprised by their research! I mean, granted, I don’t think I’ve ever bought a Jockey bra in my life, so it’s clearly a different customer base with different preferences, but oh my goodness! I want pretty underwear! I loved your post too; it really helped me crystallize some of my feelings about the kit.

      Reply
  4. thebreastlife
    July 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm (4 years ago)

    Reblogged this on thebreastlife and commented:
    Great comprehensive review of Jockey’s new bra fit system and what problems bras might fix, if any, for women.

    Reply
  5. Carmen
    July 11, 2013 at 2:39 pm (4 years ago)

    wait, is the picture on the box supposed to be measuring water “jugs?” or is my mind wandering a little too far?

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 11, 2013 at 2:44 pm (4 years ago)

      Oh sheesh. Now that you’ve pointed it out I can’t help but feel it was intentional. How “cute”. Bleagh.

      Reply
      • Carmen
        July 12, 2013 at 2:14 pm (4 years ago)

        now i can’t unsee it.

        Reply
  6. Holly Jackson
    July 11, 2013 at 11:39 pm (4 years ago)

    I love that you pointed out the wonder that is seamed bra, because they really are amazing. Moulded cups feel all funny to me now! I know lots of women who hate them and I’m not sure why they have such a bad reputation – it’s really a shame. Meanwhile, I can picture Ruby sitting there sticking her tongue out at the plastic cups now. I’m sure she’s deeply amused by them.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      July 11, 2013 at 11:45 pm (4 years ago)

      I gave her some of the cups to examine. She thought they’d have ice cream in them, and was very disappointed.

      Reply
  7. firelizard19
    July 14, 2013 at 12:07 am (4 years ago)

    “women’s breasts are not problems that need to be solved”- standing and clapping for that!!! I think a party featuring those things as decorations or guac bowls would be hilarious!

    Reply
  8. barbars
    September 8, 2013 at 1:10 pm (4 years ago)

    I found your article in response to “Does anyone else think the new Jockey bra is ridiculous?”

    Reply
    • Sweets
      September 8, 2013 at 3:50 pm (4 years ago)

      This delights me to no end. :)

      Reply
  9. Bonnie Granskog
    September 12, 2013 at 4:46 pm (4 years ago)

    I am a rep for a company that does exactly what you asked for at the end of your article. Essential Bodywear will send you five different bras with a small deposit. You try them at home. And there is someone available to answer your questions if you have any. Not notecards in a box. You keep what you love. Exchange what youlike but think maybe a different size might be better and return the rest.

    Reply
  10. brie
    October 25, 2013 at 9:02 pm (4 years ago)

    Cleary you do not have large breasts. It’s annoying that you think the $20 would make most women laugh in your face for the kit. Are you joking me????? True&co charges $45 and let’s you choose 5 bras to try on and ship back or keep. It’s a miracle for women like me. Naturally smaller around yet a size f/g. It’s unbearable to find bras and none are comfortable. This kit is a great step towards helping us feel better. Yea, pretty bras are nice. But when you can’t find ANY bra to lift and hold your breasts comfortably…. it’s on the bottom of the list. Not a fair review.

    Reply
    • Sweets
      October 25, 2013 at 11:47 pm (4 years ago)

      Hi Brie, thank you so much for taking the time to read the post and share your thoughts. I’ve read your comment a few times, and I want to apologize if the Jockey post sounded flip or insensitive. I am so sorry that you haven’t been happy with your bras, and I am glad that you find services like True & Co or Jockey Fit Kit helpful. They are not helpful to me, nor are they helpful to some other women, but it doesn’t mean they can’t be helpful or useful to you, and I am truly glad that you’ve found bras that make you feel good.

      I started writing this blog because I had finally, after years of unhappiness, learned how to fit myself, and I’d begun to find companies (like Bravissimo.com, which offers bras in sizes D-L), that made absolutely beautiful lingerie designed to fit my large boobs. I don’t normally share my bra size on the internet, but I want to make an exception here to illustrate some of my problems with the fit kit. I currently wear a 34H in English brands like Panache and Freya. This means I wear a 34K in American bras, and there are precious few American brands that even come close to making that size. The Jockey bras offered in the Fit Kit, far from lifting and holding my breasts comfortably, do not fit me. They are too small. I have found wonderful, supportive, uplifting, beautiful bras from other companies, but my disappointment with the Fit Kit stems from my memories of trying to make do before I found those companies. If I, without knowing anything about bra fit, tried the Jockey Fit Kit today, first I would feel ashamed for being too big (none of the cups in the kit fit me), and then I’d feel sad, because even with this kit, it would seem like the best available options were smooth and boring. This isn’t true, and for Jockey to imply that is misleading.

      I want all women, whether they wear size 30B or 28F or 38KK or 44H bras, to feel like they deserve something a little lovely in their lingerie, something lovely that lifts, shapes, and supports, and that makes the woman wearing it feel fantastic. If you ever want to know more about bra fitting without a Fit Kit, or about where to find literally hundreds of bras in cup sizes F & G that come in a wide range of shapes, styles, and colors, please let me know, and I’d love to share some of my favorite recommendations with you. My email is sweetnothingnyc[at]gmail[dot]com. Take care,
      Sweets

      Reply
    • Jules
      September 6, 2015 at 3:56 pm (2 years ago)

      Totally agree with Brie
      And I am one of those 9% who are after functional not fashion. why the hell do i care if my under garments are matching or pretty? Its under your clothes get over it!
      Also if you are someone living in a remote area this is a great tool to getting a proper fit at a reasonable price. The kit is essentially free once you buy your first bra.

      Reply

1Pingbacks & Trackbacks on Why I Think Jockey’s Fit Kit is Kind of Missing the Point

  1. […] or 5-36.  For more information on the sizing system itself, read these comprehensive reviews from Sweet Nothings, Ali Cudby, and Elizabeth […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>